The Quiller Memorandum

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(1966) ★★★★

Film4: Wednesday 24 June, 4.45pm

Secret agent George Segal sniffs out a neo-Nazi group in Berlin, still being rebuilt 20 years after the war. Atmospheric and haunting thriller with superior roles for Max von Sydow as the Aryan leader Oktober, Senta Berger as an ambivalent schoolteacher and best of all, Alec Guinness, who’s creepily funny as an espionage executive called Pol. In a flat London accent and from behind a range of distantly amused expressions, Guinness in his handful of scenes brings to mind the deadpan comic timing of Peter Cook. Especially when he outlines the problem to George Segal’s Quiller in Berlin’s Olympic stadium: “Nobody wears a brown shirt now, you see. No banners. Consequently they’re difficult to recognise. They look like everybody else. They move in various walks of life but they’re very careful, and quite clever. And they look like everybody else.” Along with 1970’s The Go-Between, this is the best film script Harold Pinter ever wrote, clearly relaxing with ‘pulp’ fiction. The fact that it’s got a serious point to make seems almost incidental. And it beats Bond all ends up. The ending in particular is understated, both poignant and chilling. Subtle, like so much of the film. And ultimately that’s down to Pinter’s script. Just compare it for a fleeting moment with the post-modern dross of Kingsman: The Secret Service. The evocative music’s great too. It’s by John Barry who, funnily enough, also scored all the early Bond movies. This one’s more in line with his work on Harry Palmer’s Ipcress File.

Certificate: PG
Duration: 100min

Other Showings Time & Date
Film4 6/30/2015 13:40:00